How it works
You can digitize your important documents by scanning them, encrypting the files, and uploading them to safe virtual storage. It’s more convenient than a safe deposit box, as you can access the information anytime, anywhere, on your laptop, phone, etc. If you use a company to store your data, you will not need to worry about your computer crashing or a natural disaster affecting your home.
What to digitize
- Wills, trust agreements, & powers of attorney
- Deeds, titles, & leases
- Tax records & tax-deductible receipts
- Bank information
- Insurance policies
- Photographs & home videos
- Birth/death/marriage certificates
- Medical/dental records & prescriptions
Where to Store Digital Information
- Major financial institutions: Your bank may already offer, or may consider offering soon, a “virtual” safety deposit box.
- Private companies:
- Amazon Simple Storage System (Amazon S3): scalable, secure data storage
- McAfee LiveSafe Service: offers McAfee Personal Locker, a secure online safety deposit box for sensitive documents
How to Digitize
- DIY: You should digitize your important documents yourself by using a scanner or a multifunction printer (you may already have one at home—it’s a printer with a scanner and/or copier included).
- You can follow the Library of Congress' steps for scanning your personal collections. You may also want to check out the Personal Archiving section of their website for tips on preserving audio, video, digital mail, websites, and more.
- While in certain situations you may not be able to use a copy of your important documents, it could be helpful to have copies if you need to request a replacement.
- You may also want to convert and/or restore videos, photos, negatives, and slides. You will need to decide whether you want to take your photos to a local store or ship them to a larger, nationwide service. For example:
- Costco Photo Center and Sam’s Club Photo Center can digitize film reels, negatives, VHS, slides, memory cards, and more, depending on the location.
- Companies like FedEx can copy or scan your photos if you don’t have a scanner. FedEx can also make high-quality CD and DVD copies of your documents, videos, and music.
- There are also plenty of online conversion services. Just consider shipping distances and pricing when researching your options. Check the company’s rating with the Better Business Bureau to make sure your photos and videos are in good hands.
What about free storage services?
If you’re considering using Dropbox, Google Drive, or another free cloud storage system, first decide what level of security your documents need. Often, free services will not encrypt files for you. You may be able to encrypt your documents yourself before uploading them, but we recommend choosing a secure site for your personal documents. And with any outside solution, always investigate how the company protects your data.
Please note that Dominion Credit Union does not endorse or guarantee the entities mentioned.